Answering this depends on the social context in which the network is deployed, as well as the technical characteristics of the network.
Wikipedia defines a community wireless network as “The organizations that attempt to take a grassroots approach to providing a viable alternative to municipal wireless networks for consumers.”
The Center for Neighborhood Technology defines it as “a high-speed computer network that uses radio technology to connect community members to one another. This connection provides access to the Internet and to community-generated content. It is called a “community” network because it provides community- wide coverage. A WCN is a resource that is owned and operated by the community.”
A community wireless activist interviewed for this research named Greg Bloom who worked at Washington DC’s Broadband Bridge defined a community wireless network as “21st century grassroots communication infrastructure.”
Ultimately who controls the network determines the social organization of the network. Community wireless networks are controlled by members of a geographically local community, as opposed to commercial or government entities.